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Recruiting Intelligence

Online Education = it's a global thing

Mary Meeker has become well-known and lauded for her annual PowerPoint. This year is no different. Her 164-page PowerPoint on key global internet and technology trends is a treasure trove. Mary's information helps us show you more about the trends that will affect your university marketing. As you know, your customers are early adopters and they drive these trends. We all fear falling behind as technology advances. Don't get caught off guard. Read on...

Elevator summary: 

  • A large majority of the online learners using education providers such as Coursera and Duolingo are outside the US
  • Mobile data traffic grew >80% in 2013 
  • The multi-screen world continues to grow with the broad adoption of tablets and the increasing number of ways tablets are used
  • Desktop usage accounts for a minority of usage time in most international markets
  • Millennials are moving their TV consumption online, often using phones and tablets to view TV
  • Online video consumption, including on mobile devices, is growing substantially 

Mary Meeker was a financial analyst and is now venture capital manager at Kleiner Perkins. She has the nickname, "Queen of the Net," since she has covered internet companies since the 1990s. Her annual review covers a wide range of technology trends. Her review specifically addresses education-related topics on pages 24-28 of her comprehensive presentation. 

Online education is a global phenomenon and the traffic to a number of prominent education providers is showing the reach. This trend is bound to continue with improved access to faster internet connections around the world, reduced prices for access, and increased adoption of smart-phones globally. Chart 1 (below), from Mary's presentation, highlights the scale of visitors to US-based, non-traditional education providers. Duolingo, a language learning platform, has 25 million monthly users and the online course provider, Coursera, has 7 million users.

Note that a majority of students are coming from outside the US. Many globally focused universities would be thrilled with the diversity of that enrollment. Duolingo's students are 30% from Europe and 30% from Latin America. Coursera garners a quarter of their students from Europe and Asia.

Now this is fascinating: during a recent visit to China, one of this blog's writers (Michael) met with a tutoring network for Coursera and TedTalks with a 10,000 strong mailing list. The group had established a cafe and, as students gather at the cafe for discussions, the revenue from drinks and meals is shared with the discussion tutors. The tutors are responsible for fostering discussion based on the online content and attracting the students to the cafe/classroom.

How's that for innovative use of disruptive technology? A tutor's ability to earn a living does not require an institution as employer. And an individual's thirst for knowledge and intellectual interaction can be met in many ways if the goal is not always a certificate or diploma. Yet, with these online education platforms, individuals will be able to earn credits, certificates and even diplomas as the system evolves. How employers feel about all this is still a key question, but that does not limit the option of using online education as a recruitment tool. 

Chart 2 (below) displays the patterns of media consumption in a large number of countries. You can see the difference in the volume of consumption, and the different platforms TV, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablets. For example, in Indonesia and the Philippines (top 2 countries in Chart 2), the media consumption on tablets already equals desktop usage.   

These trends are important to consider when planning domestic recruitment marketing in addition to the engagement plan for your global marketing to international students. Online education's reach is broad and diverse. Figuring out how to use it as an engagement and recruitment pathway will be critical to the future of nearly all US institutions as well as other institutions around the world.

Interestingly, even those institutions at the top of the market, Harvard and MIT, are struggling to figure out whether online education is going to lift them or ultimately sink them. That's right, those defining our business strategy theory and technology innovation standards for the past 80 years (and more) are not quite sure where the education market is going and how to capitalize on the trends in online education (see NYT article from Sunday, 6/1/14, entitled: B-School, Disrupted).

If these guys can't figure it out, who's to say anyone can? Pardon our hubris, but we actually think we have an answer. If you are interested to learn and discuss more on that topic, here's a plug for our Global Marketing Workshop in New York City, June 18th-20th.  It's not too late to sign up. 


Chart 1 


Chart 2